Tuesday, 30 June 2020

June 2020 Round-Up

This has been a strange year so far. It’s been tragic for anyone directly impacted by the virus. And it’s been frustrating for those of us keen to get back to our pre-COVID life.

At the end of June we’re unable to restart our normal activities on no. 2807. The indications are that it will be at least August before we can get back to work. The railway is restarting operational activities preparing for a re-opening during August. The railway’s priority is reopening, and not locomotive maintenance.

Fortunately for us, we were able to get our boiler to Riley & Son before the lockdown, and they have indicated to us that they are re-starting work in a limited way. The foundation ring has received attention, and the smokebox has been removed from the boiler barrel. So it’s not all doom and gloom. And some of our volunteers have been carrying on with their ‘homework’, working on parts of the locomotive that they took home before lockdown.

Meanwhile there’s still been plenty to do. We still have a company to operate, Cotswold Steam Preservation Ltd (CSPL). CSPL owns no. 2807, which is why it is possible to purchase shares in the locomotive, and a team of volunteers keep the company running.

Much of the work is not dissimilar to any other UK company. We have a chairman (Brian G), a secretary (Gilbert K), and a treasurer (Roger M). The remainder of the board is made up of Geof A, Fred L, Stuart F, John G, Ingo S, and myself. The directors of the company are Brian, Fred, Geof, Gilbert, John, Stuart, and myself.

The board members look after such things as publicity, marketing, engineering, siphon restoration, and internet presence. Other members of the team are David S who is responsible for health and safety, Andy B the “2807 News” editor, Sue S who looks after friends of 2807, and Karen F who looks after the 100 club. So operating a locomotive isn’t just about the engineering side, there’s a commercial side to it as well.

Having said that, many of these people are also directly involved in the maintenance and support of 2807, and there are ten to fifteen additional members of the maintenance/support team. Some are also involved with our charity, “The Freight Locomotive Association”.

Something else that’s been ongoing during the lockdown is boot scraper sales. Some of you will know about our boot scrapers, and they remain as popular as ever. They are available via online sales despite lockdown. To find out more please follow the “Our Shop” link from our web site, www.GWR2807.co.uk, or email Roger M at treasurer.GWR2807@outlook.com.

Keep safe


Tuesday, 31 March 2020

March 2020 Round-Up

Well, things have changed a bit. It’s tempting to be dramatic and say we’ve ripped up the plans and started again. But actually we haven’t.

The plan was always to throw all resources at removing the boiler because that’s the major part of the overhaul (unless we find any nasty surprises elsewhere). Having completed the last day of operations on 1st January, the loco was withdrawn from service and overhaul work started on 2nd January. Working in discrete teams, parts were removed, thoroughly cleaned, and stored away securely.

By the end of Saturday 4th, these items had been removed:
Spark arrestor, petticoat, brick arch, brass bonnet, steam pipe cladding, superheater elements, most of the backhead fittings, half of the boiler cladding, safety valves, clack valves, water feed pipes, whistles, blast pipe, and the steam pipes.

By the end of January these items had been added to the list:
Superheater header, blow down valve, backhead cladding, mudhole doors, washout plugs, the remainder of the boiler cladding, cylinder cladding, backhead fittings, cab windows, cab roof, damper linkages, boiler tubes, regulator, ‘tea tray’, and the cab side number plates.

A start was made on needle-gunning and painting the boiler, and this was completed in February. The cylinders received the same treatment, as did the steam pipes, and many other parts. Also during February, the ash pan was removed, by cutting it up in situ. Into March, and the con rods were removed, and a start made removing the inside motion.

Prioritising the boiler work meant that we were ready to remove it from the frames well ahead of plan. The boiler overhaul work will be carried out at Riley & Son. We contracted a haulage company known to Rileys to maximise the chance of things going smoothly. The loco was shunted out onto the line in Toddington car park on Wednesday 18th March. On the 19th a lorry with a 20-ton crane incorporated arrived at Toddington some time before 9am. It ‘simply’ lifted the boiler from the frames, and by 11am was on its way. It arrived at Rileys either the same day or early the next.

You’ll probably notice that this happened just before the country went into lockdown. So we are very relieved that the hard work has paid off and we’re in a good position for the work to continue once the lockdown rules are relaxed. However, our team, and the team at Rileys, are now ‘stood down’ until further notice.

So what’s the impact on us? The restoration has effectively gone on hold. There’s still activity around setting up contracts for work, and this includes the loco wheelsets going away to be refurbished and tyres re-profiled. But the bigger impact to us is on fund raising for the overhaul, because normally we’d expect our ever popular bootscrapers to be selling fast, and other fundraising initiatives to be in full swing, but the lockdown means that this can’t happen. So please visit the pages on this web site and see how you can help.

We’d also like to send our best wishes to the GWSR and all volunteers at this difficult time. It’s clear that the lockdown will have serious implications for the railway and other heritage railways across the country, and indeed the world. We’re sure that the GWSR is in good hands and will come out of the other end of this pandemic raring to go.

All the best to you and your families from Cotswold Steam Preservation.


Friday, 10 January 2020

December 2019 Round-Up

This is going to be a big year for 2807. This is the year when the heavy general overhaul, that we've been talking about for quite a few years, starts to happen.

When 2807 was pulled out of Woodham Brothers scrapyard in 1981 and moved to Toddington, it was the first time that people on the team had achieved such a thing. When the loco was re-wheeled in 1996, it was the first time that people on the team had achieved such a thing. I think you can see where this is going. A similar story when 2807 re-entered service in 2010. And now we commence the next phase, the first heavy general overhaul - and we haven't done this before either.

We're not particularly concerned about this (did somebody say “famous last words”?) because as a team we've built up considerable expertise over the years, and we're surrounded by people who have done this before and will give us advice when we need it. And not having done something before didn't stop us achieving the previous milestones, so let's do it again.

I'm pleased to say we have a plan. I kept hold of the plan when we completed the restoration (I was project manager then). So it's been updated to reflect an overhaul rather than a restoration, and Gilbert has split the work between teams so that things should be happening concurrently once we get going. I say once we get going, but by the time you read this it will have started. The last two operating days for 2807 were 31st December and 1st January. Withdrawal followed on 2nd January and work started the same day. In fact some things had already started. Last winter we completed some work on the valves and cylinders. That was originally planned to be overhaul work, but an opportunity arose to carry out the work early, so we took it. And, during 2019, we contracted Ian Carpenter to build us a new ash pan, ready for when the boiler overhaul work is completed.

I'm sure you're aware that the biggest piece of work to be completed is usually the boiler. It's usually the biggest piece of work because certain things have to be done each overhaul (new tubes for example), and there may be a lot of other work to do. We won't know how much other work is necessary until the boiler can be examined and tested. The other reason it's the biggest piece of work is because it requires suitably qualified people to work on it, which means the volunteers can't do it. And this means it's going to be expensive. What we do know though is that, following a tendering process, Riley and Son (E) Ltd of Heywood, Lancashire will be completing the work. It is anticipated that the boiler will be transported to Heywood mid-2020.

Which brings me on to financing the overhaul. There are certain things that have to be done, and some of these have to be contracted out (the boiler for example). Other things have to be done, but the volunteer team could do them. There are likely to be more things that we discover during the work, and which have to be done, either contracted out or by the volunteers. And there are still more things that strictly speaking don't have to be done, but while the loco is in pieces it makes sense to do them rather than store up problems for later on.

We believe that we have the finance for the things that we know about and which must be done, and also the things that it makes sense to do at the same time. But additional finance will assist in two scenarios. One is that we discover significant additional work that needs doing. The other is that we wish to shorten the duration of the overhaul by contracting out more of the work.

It's worth mentioning here that our main source of income is steaming fees. During the overhaul there's no steaming, and so no fees. If the money runs out then the overhaul will stop until sufficient funds can be raised (by other means) to complete the work. What we need is a steady flow of income other than steaming fees. We already have a very loyal group of supporters who always come up trumps when we need them. If you would like to join this group, then please take a look at the pages on this web site where you will find information about ways to help, and the benefits that brings.


Wednesday, 8 January 2020

The last few days ...

No. 2807 has now completed its last few days of running prior to heavy overhaul.  The overhaul is likely to take a few years, so here's some photos from the 1st January 2020 to remind us of what we can expect on 2807's return.

(photos reproduced by kind permission of Geoff Turner)


Monday, 2 December 2019

Important decision on boiler overhaul work

Cotswold Steam Preservation Ltd has been planning the heavy overhaul of GWR steam locomotive No. 2807 for a number of years.

It had already been decided to withdraw 2807 at the end of the 2019 season at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.  The final two days of operation for a number of years wil be 31st December 2019 and 1st january 2020.

The reason for withdrawing the locomotive is to carry out a heavy overhaul, something that is required for all steam locomotives in order to ensure the safety of the pressure vessel, the boiler.

The boiler work is normally the most important task carried out during the overhaul.  It is not work that can be carried out by the volunteer team because it requires specialist skills.  It is important to select a suitable contractor to carry out the work.

Taking into consideration the availability of a 'slot' in the contractors schedule, the quality of work carried out by the contractor on behalf of other locomotive owners, the cost, and other considerations, it has been decided to contract Riley & Son (E) Ltd of Heywood, Lancashire.

The work to remove the boiler from the frames will be the top priority once 2807 is withdrawn.  It is hoped that the boiler will be transported to Riley & Son around mid-2020.


Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Important decision on 10-year overhaul

As 2807 approaches time for the 10-year overhaul, decisions have to be made regarding when to withdraw the loco from service, and how best to contract out the overhaul works which cannot be completed by the volunteer team.

The previous post spelled out the withdrawal options.  The Cotswold Steam Preservation Ltd Board has decided to withdraw 2807 following the last Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) operating day of the 2019 season.  This means that Tuesday 31st December 2019 and Wednesday 1st January 2020 will be 2807's final days in service for a number of years.

It is expected that 2807 will be rostered as Steam1 on 31st December (departs Toddington 10am heading for Cheltenham) and Steam2 on 1st January (departs Toddington 10:30am heading towards Broadway).  You can check the roster here and the calendar and timetables here.

This decision was taken in conjunction with the GWSR to ensure that the railway has an opportunity to plan its operations around the withdrawal.

Decisions regarding the contracting out of works are ongoing.  The decision regarding the boiler works will be made by the end of the year.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

September 2019 Round-up

Despite being nearly due a 10-year overhaul, reliability continues to be good and there's very little to report, except for a regular boiler washout. So let's move straight on to the overhaul.

Way back in March 2010, when we were frantically trying to get 2807 operating as quickly as possible, one of the tasks completed was a hydraulic test of the boiler. Ten years on from this, and the boiler certificate will expire on 10th March 2020. This is the event that triggers the 10-year overhaul for all steam locomotives. Unless of course there is some sort of major failure before, or the boiler inspectors grant an extension for a period of time.

So what do we do about this? At a high level, the options are:
1) When the annual boiler examination is due in November of this year, we decide not to have the examination but to start the overhaul instead.
2) At the end of the 2019 operating season at the GWSR we withdraw 2807 and start the overhaul
3) At the end of the boiler certificate in March 2020 we start the overhaul.
4) At the end of the boiler certificate in March 2020 we request an additional examination to find out whether an extension to the certificate is possible.

Each of these options has a long list of pros and cons which I won't go into here, but Cotswold Steam Preservation Ltd won't be making any decisions without first consulting with the GWSR. We need to make sure that our plans for 2807's overhaul fit in with GWSR's plans for operating the railway. We also need to select a company to carry out the work on the boiler, and to join a queue of other boilers waiting for attention. If there is a 'gap' in the queue then that might influence our choice of option, and which company will carry out the boiler work.

All of which means that right now I can't tell you which of these options (or maybe one we haven't thought of yet) we will be going with.

Once an option is chosen, we will work with the GWSR to see if there is the possibility of a farewell event for 2807.  Details will be made available as soon as possible.

So quite a few unknowns at the moment, which is a little unnerving. And we can add to the unknowns because until we start dismantling the locomotive we won't know the condition of some of the parts. If any are worse than expected then this may mean that we have to carry out more work, meaning additional time and expense to complete the overhaul.

This is why, in addition to income from steaming fees, we've carried on with our fundraising activities without a break. I'm sure you will have seen us represented at events at the GWSR, and you'll know from reports in previous editions of the Cornishman that there are a number of ways that you can help us financially to make sure that 2807 is overhauled and back in operation as quickly as possible.

There are a number of ways that you can help and some of these are detailed on this web site.  One of the most popular is to become a shareholder.

Meanwhile we still have our siphon van at Winchcombe. This becomes vitally important to us now because there will be a lot of parts removed from 2807 shortly, and we need somewhere secure to store them. The siphon will be used for this, but needs some more work to make it ready. This includes ensuring that the storage shelving is in good condition and suitable for the heavier items. This work is underway now and should be completed in time, whichever option we decide upon.

The year 2020 is going to be an important one for us, with lots to sort out and decisions to be made. We'll keep you informed as much as possible via these round-ups.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

June 2019 Round-up

No. 2807 started the 2019 season well, if a few weeks late. But on April 7th she was failed with a hot coupling rod bearing. The team got to work, and after removing the connecting rod and the offending coupling rod, discovered that the lubricating oil passage was blocked. This of course meant insufficient oil reaching the bearing surfaces, hence the hot bearing.

By the end of Wednesday the 10th, the oil passage was unblocked, and the rods refitted. On Saturday the 13th, 2807 was supposed to double-head with 4270 to make sure all was well. But unfortunately 4270 was failed with a broken spring so 2807 took the service train alone. The run was successful and the bearing temperature was normal.

Some of the drivers had reported that the brake vacuum was sticking at 19in of mercury, when it should be reaching 21 in. The suspicion was that the vacuum piston rod had become worn to the extent that the glands were not sealing. Measurement of the rod diameter found a difference of 40 thou along its length. This can be looked at during the heavy general overhaul next year, but for now the gland was tightened, and the brakes were adjusted so that the vacuum piston rod does not have to move as far.

Towards the end of April there were reports of a cracked spring. At the next opportunity this was replaced before it broke, because a broken spring triggers a loco failure (as for 4270 earlier). The crack was very small and so our thanks to the drivers who spotted it.

There were the usual array of minor issues to resolve, many involving valves that were not sealing and needed lapping-in. A washout was completed just before the steam gala, along with fitting our spark arrestor equipment.

And our 'workshop' received some attention. The workshop is actually an old shipping container. This is the GWSR's preferred option for providing working space. Loose rust was removed from the roof and a coat of bitumen paint applied.

In between times, the team have had to work hard at the boot scraper production line because so far this year, on average, one has been sold for every railway operating day.

Since our team works twice a week, sometimes we need to complete two or three (or more) at a time just to keep up with sales.

(for more information on our boot scrapers, visit our shop